Thursday, November 4, 2010

Taking Expat Women Around The World: An Update, Some Thanks, and Lessons Learned: Andrea Martins

Hi Everyone, A few times each year, I have the very good fortune to travel to some wonderful places to promote Expat Women.

I consider this travel an incredible privilege and I owe a belated but sincere thank you to everyone who has helped me and/or hosted me in my travels of late, plus every sponsor, advertiser, peer, partner, member and blog reader (ie. you!) for supporting Expat Women and making this all possible. 

Thank you!


Here is an overview of what I have been up to... and what I have learned along the way...
1st Stop: Hong Kong, China

In September, I attended the first Search Engine Strategies conference in Hong Kong.  Afterwards, I wrote up some insights and learnings from the conference, which I encourage you to read about here: 6 Ways to Improve the Success of your Website.

Lesson learned in Hong Kong... keynote like Avinash Kaushik - with passion - and equally importantly... with simple, creative and minimal-text slides!

A big thanks to my friend Linda Yan for accommodating me in Hong Kong and another big thank you to our wonderfully generous friends at SIRVA Relocation for hosting us one fine evening!  If you are looking to be relocated, anywhere in the world, please contact SIRVA Relocation and support the company that supports us.  Thank you!


2nd Stop: Shanghai, China

I then travelled to Shanghai for the 3-day Expat Show Shanghai.  It was great to meet so many (mostly new) expats in Shanghai - and I thank all the women who signed up as Expat Women members at that Show.  It was also lovely to meet the friendly and dedicated volunteers at Lifeline Shanghai (from the exhibition stand next to ours).  I applaud their commitment and the difference they are making to so many expat lives in Shanghai.

Coincidentally, our featured Thrive authors (Ruth Kuguru, Lisa Blunt Rochester and Alejandra Guzmรกn) were holding a 'Meet-the-Women-of-Thrive' event at the Glamour Bar while I was there, so I got to meet all three women in person, plus some of the women featured in their book, which was fantastic.

Lesson learned in Shanghai... If an airline sells you a ticket with a different name in brackets after the main city name, such as "Shanghai (xxx)", do not assume that this airport is close by: be sure to Google the "xxx" name in brackets, so you do not find yourself like me and unable to get to the "xxx" airport (apparently 3-4 hours away) without having pre-purchased a train ticket several days prior.


3rd Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Two weeks at 'home' to spend time with my husband, children and friends.

Lesson learned in KL... Time away from your family and inner circle of friends makes you realize just how good you have it.  Try not to ever take these wonderful people for granted.


4th Stop: Dubai, UAE

This was my first-ever visit to Dubai - and I could not get over how similar Dubai was for me to Las Vegas: grand hotels; dancing water fountains; desert; shops, shops and more shops; lots of 'big' buildings; a great array of visiting artists/musicians/celebrities; and lots of Westerners.

One of the highlights was meeting our Expat Women team member and my co-author for our first upcoming Expat Women book (due for release early 2011), Victoria Hepworth!  Thank you Victoria for taking me to that groovy Lebanese restaurant where we enjoyed hummus while watching the skiers whiz by on the indoor ski slope!

Another highlight was joining in on an American Women's Association (AWA) Dubai meeting.  (Thanks to Donna Haas for arranging for me to speak there, briefly!) The room was full, with about 160+ women (8 per breakfast table, so that was a lot of tables) and was very, very impressive.  Congratulations AWA Dubai and keep up your great work!

Finally, I really enjoyed meeting our long-time friends Explorer Publishing, who donate our prize book pack every month.  They produce the most gorgeous books for residents/expats in various cities around the world and if you have not checked for your expat location yet, I highly recommend you do so!

Lesson learned in Dubai... Avoid toy shopping there.  The Barbie that my daughter wanted that was US$18 on and US$30 in Malaysia, was US$70 (!) in Dubai.


5th Stop: London

On to London (I love London!) to meet up with: the London arm of SIRVA Relocation; an upcoming new sponsor (who will hopefully be on our site soon); good friends and contacts in the relocation scene (including Corinne Hearne, who took me to a City Women's Network event - thanks Corinne!); as well as our long-time Gold Sponsor, Aetna Global Benefits.  If you are looking for international health insurance, please check out what Aetna (a huge, very reputable, global company) can do for you.  Thanks!

Lesson learned in London... never laugh at those signs in the Tube trains that say London has bed bugs: I did; London does; I got them.  Not fun. :-(

6th Stop: Geneva

Now, this was a special treat: I got to stay with a family (Jo and Lee Heeson and their children) who were one of our favourite families during our posting in Mexico City, years ago.  Jo and Lee are now living in Lausanne, and when Jo was not helping me at the Geneva Expat Expo, she was generously taking me on a lovely afternoon boat ride, a long walk through vineyards looking over the water, and for a traditional Swiss fondue dinner along Lausanne's waterfront.  It felt surreal and I loved every minute of it - thanks Jo!

Lesson learned in Geneva... if you are lucky enough to be riding in a flashy car and people keep looking at you... remember, they are not looking at you, they are looking at the car. ;-)


7th Stop: Washington, D.C.

On to Washington for Clements International's Expat Forum 2010. This was  panel discussion, with author and former "The Expat Life" columnist Alan Paul, adult TCK and Foreign Service Youth Foundation (FSYF) representative Alyson Rose-Wood, Maureen Johnston from the U.S. Department of State's Overseas Briefing Center at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), and myself.  The audience was about one-third expats and two-thirds organizational representatives servicing expats.  It was lots of fun.  Videos from the panel discussions will be available soon (I will let you know).

A huge thank you to Clements International for organizing everything for this event at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center and providing breakfast as well!  Serving expatriates for 60+ years, Clements International offers insurance coverage in over 170 countries for automobile, personal property, life, health, as well as businesses, international schools, and relief and development organizations.

Clements also run the annual Expat Youth Scholarship (EYS) - an initiative to be applauded and supported. If you have children who would like to get involved next year, follow the EYS on Facebook and be among the first to learn about next year's scholarship competition!

Shout-outs also go to the World Bank Family Network (WBFN) and the U.S. State Department's Family Liaison Office (FLO).  I met the warm and wonderful teams in both of these organizations and it is so heartening to learn just how much these organizations are helping support the families of global relocatees.

Finally, to my good friend (from our Jakarta days), Steffi Stallmeister: thank you for taking me out for your birthday dinner. And for hosting me in Washington, I need to thank the awesome Susan Musich and her gorgeous children.  Susan left the World Bank to develop Passport Career - a dynamic global job search tool for organizations to support accompanying spouses/partners of international assignees - which, if your organization does not offer this yet, I encourage you to ask them to get in touch with Susan.  (Thanks also go to the 60+ of our members who helped Susan with research for her new venture!)

Lesson learned in Washington... You do not have to be American to get a thrill out of being inside the State Department and the World Bank's Washington D.C. office, and/or standing outside the White House. ;-)


8th Stop: Las Vegas

Las Vegas was BlogWorld: the world's largest blogging and social media conference.  It was full of well-known names from the new media world, like: Survivor creator Mark Burnett; ProBlogger's, Darren Rowse; Ms Facebook, Mari Smith; Unmarketing's Scott Stratten; and more.  The schedule was like a smorgasbord: I mean, have you ever been to a conference where for each session, there were 12+ track options to choose from?  Incredible.

When I get a spare day (smile), I will go through all my notes and write up some of the great things that I learned from my three days at BlogWorld, to share with you, I promise.

Also, it was really nice to catch up with my expat friend Annabel Candy again, the author of our feature article this month, Successful Blogging: 5 Steps to Planning a Successful Blog.  Annabel  has just released her first e-book about blogging, Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps.  I have read it: it's excellent.  Congratulations Annabel!

Finally, big thanks to the Queen of CRAVE (a fabulous events and self-publishing company), Melody Biringer, for being my BlogWorld buddy.  Melody is a self-described "start-up junkie" who has started 20+ businesses.  Her memoir, recounting all the business lessons she has learned from each of her businesses, will be out very soon...

Lesson learned in Las Vegas... Tech-savvy audiences (like the ones at BlogWorld) are changing the way presentations are being delivered and received.  At every presentation, a good three-quarters (!) of the room were always either blogging, typing, foursquaring, tweeting or reading tweets about what was being presented either in that room, or another room at the conference.  It was a real eye-opener - and I found myself mimicking this multi-tasking behaviour - tweeting things I was learning and/or reading the tweets of everyone in the audience around me, commenting on what was being said up front.  One ear was listening to each presentation and one ear was listening to was being said online. It was never boring.


9th Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Three weeks to recover and then in a few days I will be in...


10th Stop: Singapore

I am honoured to have been invited to speak next week at the American Association's Career Resource Center for Expatriates (CRCE) event on Wednesday 10 November, and the PrimeTime: Business & Professional Women's Association event on Thursday 11 November, details here.


11th Stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Home, sweet home... at least until Christmas, then it's back to our other 'home' for the holidays!


THANK YOU to Everyone who made my recent travels so memorable.

I will try and upload some photos another day, when my internet connection is not so slow.  (It took six hours just to write, insert all the links and complete this post... which would be funny, if it wasn't sadly true.)

BEST WISHES to all of you and enjoy your weekend!

Andrea x


Kathy Dorf, Clements International said...

It was great having you at The Expat Forum! Thanks for your support of Clements!

Miss Footloose said...

Oh my, Andrea, you were not kidding about being busy! Not that I doubted you ;).

If you ever are in my neigborhood -- which may be in Moldova, Ecuador, or somewhere else altogether a few months from now -- I'll take you out to dinner!

Karen (of the book stack)

Anonymous said...

loved this issue! heart felt, real and humor tossed in the mix! Andrea, what a fantastic writer you are! Travel is my middle name, had I known you were in switzerland I would have driven from germany to you, maybe next time! Be well, and thank you for your dedication on behalf of us expats in germany..Janice Wright, proud military spouse

Anonymous said...

loved this issue! heart felt, real and humor tossed in the mix! Andrea, what a fantastic writer you are! Travel is my middle name, had I known you were in switzerland I would have driven from germany to you, maybe next time! Be well, and thank you for your dedication on behalf of us expats in germany..Janice

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